Do you ever struggle with knowing your purpose?
The noun “purpose” refers to intention combined with design to accomplish an end. In Hebrew, the verb means “to give counsel.”
God continually does both in our lives to accomplish His will, but we may never see the results this side of heaven.
This month I’ve alternately prayed and ranted, “What’s my purpose, God?” (Can you relate?) I couldn’t see how my efforts made one iota of difference to myself or others. Moreover, my goals and dreams seemed just as far off as they were four years ago.
I begged for a glimpse of God’s purpose—anything to let me know I was on the right track.
God’s purpose in the man blind from birth
Then I recalled John 9. Jesus was in Jerusalem, teaching in the Temple courts. One chapter before, He had intervened on behalf of a woman caught in adultery; so the Pharisees were already doubly insulted by Jesus’ actions and teaching. Then on the Sabbath, He healed a man who was born blind.
That is incredible. Not just for the miracle, which is amazing enough. But for what it teaches about purpose.
For context, we need to pinpoint where Jesus was—because that’s key to this story. He was just outside the Temple complex, near the Pool of Bethesda, on the northeast side of Jerusalem.
Jesus finds the blind man sitting in a corner, begging. Jesus spits on the ground, makes mud with His saliva, and smears it on this man’s eyes. Ewww factor aside, what’s more extraordinary is Jesus tells the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. Not the Pool of Bethesda, within a few steps of him. But in the Pool of SILOAM. On the opposite side of the city—in Jerusalem’s southeast corner!
Why would Jesus do that? What purpose did that serve?
You might say Jesus tested the man’s faith. Apparently the blind man obeyed without question. But there’s more to it than that.
Picture him stumbling down the busy street, falling or bumping into people, shoving some aside as he works his way toward his destination. Maybe he accidentally overturns a market stall.
You see, he wasn’t walking on level ground but on a long downward slope through the city. (Here’s a great article comparing the location of the Pool of Siloam vs the Pool of Bethesda.) A slope full of steps. And it wasn’t just any street. It was the widest boulevard in Jerusalem: the pilgrimage road from the Temple to the Pool of Siloam.
And, at that time on that day, it was full of people.
The man washes his eyes then comes back through the city—no doubt running—to find Jesus. He strains through perfectly clear vision to find his benefactor. Instead, the Pharisees intercept him. Furious and disbelieving that he’d been healed ON THE SABBATH, they summon his parents for questioning and grill the man twice. Geesh.
God-ripples of purpose via Siloam
I’m in awe of how God accomplished so many things with that single act. The Pool of Siloam didn’t contain “better” water. When Jesus sent the blind man across the city, He ensured that the maximum number of people would see the man’s “before” and “after.” Think of how that affected them! It was a first-century social media blitz, all for God’s glory.
(When the man returned to the Temple to look for Jesus, it impacted the Pharisees, too. But they didn’t open their eyes or hearts to God’s message.)
God expressed a slice of His purpose through that man. How marvelous is that?
The blind man gained his sight, his Savior, and became an ambassador for Christ. All in one run through a crowded Jerusalem street during Sabbath rush hour.
Jesus didn’t need to tell him, “Go all the way across the city, for it will benefit you and many others.”
Our faith shouldn’t require such details, either. Our heavenly Father delights in our awe when our obedience results in more God-ripples than we can possibly imagine.
On Monday, May 3, God put on my heart to pray for a person by name—but not what to pray for. That day I had three hours to pray while traveling. But the urge to pray persisted all week, so I finally emailed that person’s mom (one of my BFFs) to say, “Hey, anything going on with your daughter?” When they got together on Mothers Day, my BFF learned her daughter had talked that week with an overseas friend who was seriously considering suicide. The daughter had successfully convinced her friend to not go through with it. Interestingly, both gals have the same name—so it’s like God had me pray for two people at the same time. A bonus: when my BFF shared with her daughter my obedience in praying, that opened a door for her to talk with her daughter about spiritual matters in a way she hadn’t been able to do for a long time.
I don’t know what will come of that for either girl. I’m humbled and grateful that God used me in a small way for His purpose. (And I’m very glad I listened to His voice instead of whining about “God, what’s my purpose?”)
The name “Siloam” means “sent.” Where is God sending you today for His purpose? Does the direction seem to make no sense? It may be a pilgrimage to your Pool of Siloam. Whether God says go, stay, or pray, rejoice that around the corner is a glimpse His purpose. Not the full picture, and maybe far afield from what you expect. But it will make ripples.Our heavenly Father delights in our awe when our obedience results in more God-ripples than we can possibly imagine. Click To Tweet
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BONUS: Verses about purpose
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands” (Psalm 138:8).
“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
“… it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me” (Psalm 57:2).